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Associative priming in a masked perceptual identification task: Evidence for automatic processes

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Two experiments investigated the influence of automatic and strategic processes on associative priming effects in a perceptual identification task in which prime–target pairs are briefly presented and masked. In this paradigm, priming is defined as a higher percentage of correctly identified targets for related pairs than for unrelated pairs. In Experiment 1, priming was obtained for mediated word pairs. This mediated priming effect was affected neither by the presence of direct associations nor by the presentation time of the primes, indicating that automatic priming effects play a role in perceptual identification. Experiment 2 showed that the priming effect was not affected by the proportion (.90 vs. .10) of related pairs if primes were presented briefly to prevent their identification. However, a large proportion effect was found when primes were presented for 1000 ms so that they were clearly visible. These results indicate that priming in a masked perceptual identification task is the result of automatic processes and is not affected by strategies. The present paradigm provides a valuable alternative to more commonly used tasks such as lexical decision.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, and Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands 2: University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Publication date: October 1, 2002


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